Bright and early this morning, we headed out for the long drive from our hotel to Manuel Antonio National Park. Unfortunately, only 4 of us were able to make the trip. Paul had to stay back at the hotel with Philip because he was having tummy troubles this morning. We were sad to leave them behind, and I was more than a little apprehensive about taking 3 kids + 2 bags full of stuff on a tour that I knew would require at least 2 miles of hiking to the beach and back. I frequently tell the kids that we sometimes have to do something less than pleasant (ride a long way, trek in hot weather, etc) before we can experience something wonderful. I was meditating on my own words with this adventure!
We stopped about halfway into the trip for a mid-morning breakfast and a visit with this brave iguana.
Following breakfast, we trekked across the Tárcoles River bridge to spot many of its famous crocodile inhabitants. (Another thing I am not comfortable with: walking on an 18-inch wide path over hundreds of 7-foot long crocodiles while traffic flies by mere inches away beside me.)
Fortunately, we made it across unharmed and caught our bus again for the park.
Once we arrived at the coast, we parked and readied ourselves for the hike to the beach. The first thing I noticed was another iguana sitting on a spray-painted wall like he was an art installation. Iguanas must be plentiful in this area. We saw quite a few of them.
Just outside the park's entrance, you can find several vendors selling coconut water from green coconuts. We waited until our hike back to buy one, but it was delicious!
Once we hit the trail, our guide pointed out the local flora and fauna, in addition the animals that are popularly spotted in the area.
The first mammal we saw was the squirrel monkey. He, unlike many that we saw later, seemed to be posing for our photos.
Random spider. "Non-poisonous. You can touch." says the guide. Um...not hardly.
We saw a sloth early on in our walk to the beach. I took a few shots but he was hard to see tucked behind branches and leaves. Fortunately, this sloth was on the closest tree to the trail and was easily spotted and photographed.
Almost as soon as I started snapping, he turned toward us and flashed his famous smile. The kids were thrilled to see this 3-toed sloth, not only moving but easily spotted.
Our guide also pointed out this sleeping frog on a leaf along the path. He was adorably tucked up and completely zonked out.
We ended up seeing a total of 25-30 monkeys while we were in the park. This white-faced capuchin was the other variety we spotted. The guide warned us several times that these monkeys were famous for stealing tourist's food from their bags on the beach.
At last we were on the beach. The water, beaches, and natural areas were just as lovely as all of the photos I've seen. This first photo is looking right from the trailhead on the main beach.
The following photos is looking left from the trailhead. The park forms a horseshoe shape here at the main beach. Its really so beautiful and lush, and the water is the prettiest green color.
The kids, of course, didn't care as much about the beauty of the beach. They just wanted to play.
We were warned that the water was a little "strong" today. The guide wasn't kidding. The waves were strong, and the pull of the receding water, even in just knee-deep water was crazy strong. The waves would crash and splash 10-15 feet in the air when they hit the rocks further out in the water.
I didn't let the kids go out very deep, but they seemed to have plenty of fun in the shallow water too.
When they warned us about food-stealing animals, they should've told us about this fellow! I watched him walk right up to a couple's bag and steal wrapped food out of it with them sitting right there! He tried the same with our bag. I swung it at him a few times, and he wandered off to find easier pickings.
One of our favorite parts of the day was walking over to the right to the rockier side of the beach.
The sand changed quickly to rocks, and what beautiful rocks they were. We each kept a small handful of pretty colored rocks and wave beaten coral.
This area of the beach attracted many hermit crabs. They were skittering all over the sand and rocks.
The kids found a "pool of warm bath water" as Finn aptly named it.
And then we saw the tiniest little conch shell with its little conch feeling its way around the beach.
After about 45 minutes of rock hunting, the kids decided to return to their beach play. The rock hunting was probably my favorite part of the day. "I found another treasure!" Finn kept shouting.
After another 30 minutes of water play, it was time to head back out of the park, among the coconut palms and yet more monkeys. I'm so glad that we were able to make this trip, despite how tiring it was. I'm also sad that Paul and Philip missed it. I think they would've had a fabulous time here. Thankfully, Philip appears to be on the mend, and hopefully he won't miss out on any other adventures.